- Article published:
- June 5, 2013, 17:12
- Daniel Benson
Bruyneel tight-lipped on 2012 loan to Becca
RadioShack-Leopard directeur sportif Dirk Demol is confident that Luca Guercilena will keep the majority of the team together despite speculation mounting over the squad’s future. Cyclingnews understands that Trek is keen to keep working with Fabian Cancellara in particular but that Flavio Becca is facing several legal cases, one of which involves a loan Leopard received from the team’s former manager Johan Bruyneel.
It was reported in Luxembourg newspaper Tageblatt that Flavio Becca is set to sell the team’s WorldTour licence and that Trek, the team’s bike supplier, will step up and build the team around Fabian Cancellara and Andy Schleck.
Trek has a contract with the team for 2014 but would need to secure Becca's WorldTour licence if it wants any current contracts with riders to be valid.
However, Tageblatt speculates that Fränk Schleck could be fired from the team by Becca in the coming weeks. The rider is set to return from a ban next month after testing positive for Xipamide in last year’s Tour de France.
Firing Fränk Schleck would be a contentious move given that Andy has stated that he could never ride on a different team to his brother.
Both Schlecks have contracts with the team for next year and Demol told Cyclingnews that the plans were to keep the majority of the team together, including both Schleck brothers.
“I’m still waiting for news but we’re very optimistic. I’m not concerned, I’m confident that we’ll go on. I’ve not spoken to the riders but we’re confident and that’s all I can say at the moment. I’ve not spoken to Becca but Luca is working on it and we’re hopeful. We’ve got a good group,” Demol told Cyclingnews.
“It’s the beginning of June now and it would be nice if it was all sorted soon. The sooner the better, obviously.
“There are a lot of rumours going around but I know that we want to keep this group of riders together, as many of them as possible and that includes the Schlecks because they have a contract for next year already.”
The situation becomes more complex with the loan Becca accepted from Bruyneel during the 2012 season. Bruyneel managed the squad until October 2012 when he was dismissed due to his case with USADA. Before Bruyneel left the team, Cyclingnews understands that Becca accepted a 1.5 million Euro loan from him in order to cover missing wages within the team. That loan has not been returned, with legal proceedings now close to conclusion. Bruyneel had brought with him 15 million USD per year to the squad already.
Bruyneel would not comment on the matter when Cyclingnews contacted him, while Becca has not answered several calls.
- Article published:
- June 5, 2013, 18:15
- Stephen Farrand
Sprinters test their Tour de France speed in the Dutch stage race
The organisers of next week's Ster ZLM Toer have announced that Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) will all ride the five-day Dutch race in the build-up to the Tour de France.
Cavendish opted to ride the ZLM Toer after finishing the Giro d'Italia last year, and won the overall classification last year despite not winning a stage. He then went onto win three stages at the Tour de France.
He has followed the same plan this year after winning five stages and the red points jersey in Italy. He fine-tuned his new leadout train in Italy and will have similar support next week with Andrew Fenn, Gert Steegmans, Matteo Trentin, Dries Devenyns, Serge Pauwels, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Michal Golas listed in the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) have opted to ride the Tour of Switzerland, but Cavendish will be challenged by Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittle in the sprints. All three are expected to clash again at the Tour de France.
Kittle won Scheldeprijs in the spring and showed is form with a win at the recent Tour de Picardie, while Greipel showed his form with two stage wins at the Tour of Belgium.
The entry list includes eight WorldTour teams, including BMC, Saxo-Tinkoff and Garmin-Sharp. The Blanco team is also looking for success on home roads with Theo Bos and Graeme Brown taking on the sprinters, with Lars Boom as probable team leader.
The powerful Dutchman is the favourite for the opening eight-kilometre prologue time trial. He finished second overall to Cavendish last year.
The other stages end in Breda, Buchten, La Gileppe in the Belgian Ardennes, and in Boxtel.
Ster ZLM Toer stages:
Wednesday June 12: Stage 1: Goes 8km
Thursday June 13: Stage 2: Breda - Breda 175.7km
Friday June 14: Stage 3: Buchten - Buchten 188.3km
Saturday June 15: Stage 4 Verviers Hotel - La Gileppe 186km
Sunday June 16: Stage 5: Gerwen - Boxtel 176.2km
- Article published:
- June 5, 2013, 19:45
- Cycling News
Vandenbroucke picks Van den Broeck for title on climbing course
The course for the Belgian national road championships is too hard for Tom Boonen and Gianni Meersman, said race manager Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke, who picks Jurgen Van den Broeck for the title.
The course in La Roche-en-Ardenne has two parts, a city circuit to be covered twice, described as “a bit of the Monaco Grand prix, only cycling,” followed by sixteen laps of a 13.8 km circuit course, for a total of 220 kilometers.
It is the second circuit which makes the course so difficult. It features not only the Cote d'Ortho, the main climb of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but also two short but nasty climbs.
“It is something for climbers,” Vandenbroucke said, calling it much too difficult for Boonen, and possibly for almost everyone else. “If the weather is bad, I don't expect twenty riders at the finish.”
Philippe Gilbert has a chance, “but has too few teammates in the race.” He looks to Van den Broeck and Maxime Monfort, who “is not a world champion and will therefore find it easier to slip away.”
"Jelle Vanendert was actually my favorite. But he's not well. And so I put my money on Van den Broeck. If he ever wants to win the Belgian championship, this is his chance."
- Article published:
- June 5, 2013, 21:15
- James Emmett
A look at Vero, the communications company behind his campaign
British Cycling president Brian Cookson officially threw his hat in the ring for the UCI presidency on Tuesday, but if he is to oust current president Pat McQuaid, who is running for a third term in office, it will not be a result of a lone effort.
The manoeuvrings of modern day sports politics bear more than a passing resemblance to those of government. Spin doctors – strategists, communications experts, media advisors and professional lobbyists are crucial. Cookson is believed to have made his mind up to challenge McQuaid only last week. However he has already secured the services of Vero, a London-based specialist sports communications agency, to help him manage and direct his campaign.
Founded in 2006 by Mike Lee, director of communications and public affairs at UEFA before shaping the public facing strategy for London’s bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, Vero has built a niche for itself in the ultra-political realm of major events bidding.
Before getting into the sports world, with a job in the first iteration of the Premier League’s communications department, Lee spent his formative years in the cut and thrust of real political campaigning, developing strategies for the Labour Party in its efforts to regain power in the UK in the early 1990s. The hard knocks of those years have translated into a steely discipline in Vero’s work today.
Vero is not a swollen, international PR giant. It is small, nimble and sticks to its highly specialised area of expertise. There are hardly any gaps in its catalogue of successes: Lee was responsible for communications for Rio’s bid for the 2016 Olympics, a winning effort in one of the hardest fought Olympic bid campaigns and one in which he redefined the nature of the role he was given. He followed that with an even more remarkable victory: guiding Qatar’s unlikely effort to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup from rank outsider to ultimate winner. Lee was senior consultant to the bid.
Significantly, Vero has been involved in successful presidential campaigns before too. Indeed, they know both sides of the fence, having masterminded the campaign to ensure that Brazilian Volleyball Federation chief Ary Graca took the top job at the International Volleyball Federation. Vero also oversaw the campaign to keep Lamine Diack, an octogenarian veteran of Olympic politics, in his post as the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations in 2011.
Ominously for Pat McQuaid, Vero and Lee have not tasted defeat too many times. Vero will combine its work for Cookson with that of their current clients and ongoing campaigns. These include squash’s bid for inclusion on the Olympic programme, Buenos Aires’ bid for the 2018 Youth Olympics, as well as advisory roles for the World Olympians Association, the International Centre for Sport Security in Qatar, and the upcoming IRB Sevens World Cup in Moscow.
Although Lee and his team are far too good to take a one-size-fits-all approach to any kind of campaign, they do tend to favour a full-blooded effort, hammering home their messages with near-daily releases to the media and taking advantage of any circumstance to offer opportune interviews with selected press. On the other hand, they do not leave their clients floundering either, chaperoning and marshaling them in public situations where any kind of scrutiny is likely.
When Cookson launched his campaign, the hallmarks of a professional campaign were evident: from the carefully leaked ‘trail’ of the news to build anticipation the day before, to the multilingual release and just-so statement that announced it. There was also the simultaneous activation of the @cooksonforuci Twitter feed (which has already amassed over 5,000 followers), and the briancookson.org website – neither of which are likely to be manned by the candidate himself.
The concept of narrative in a bid campaign is a key guiding principle for Lee, who has made a professional success of his natural ability as a storyteller. As Cookson’s campaign heads towards judgement day in late September, we can expect that ‘narrative’ to develop quickly, beginning with the unveiling of his full manifesto next week.
- Article published:
- June 5, 2013, 23:00
- Cycling News
Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase to feature in first stages
The Tour of Utah has scored one of American cycling's biggest coups, gaining permission to pass through some of the USA's most scenic National Parks, including the Cedar Breaks National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in its first foray to the southern part of the state.
"Featuring the signature red rock country of southern Utah for the first time, there is tremendous anticipation for this year's race and the new courses. The opportunity to bring our race to these National Parks and National Monuments is unprecedented for professional cycling," said Steve Miller, president of Miller Sports Properties which organizes the Tour of Utah. "Athletically, the Tour of Utah will truly challenge our riders while spectators enjoy the competition against the backdrop of the state's stunning scenery."
Kicking off the UCI 2.1-ranked event on August 6, 2013 will be a 180km stage beginning from the Brian Head ski resort and heading directly into Cedar Breaks National Monument, where riders will climb to 10,800 feet (3291m) before descending to the finish in Cedar City.
A marathon 210km stage will follow, beginning from Panguitch and passing through parts of Bryce Canyon NP and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on the scenic highway 12, climbing Boulder Mountain before dropping down to the finish in Torrey.
A relatively flat 191km stage from Richfield to Payson, with only Mount Nebo standing in the way of a bunch sprint with 35km to go.
The race then heads back to familiar territory, with a circuit race in the state capitol of Salt Lake City, with a challenging 54.7km circuit similar to that of 2011, where Levi Leipheimer's race lead was threatened by relentless attacks.
The queen stage remains intact, with riders facing 182km from a new start at the Snowbasin Resort, northeast of Ogden, to the traditional summit finish at the Snowbird Resort, incorporating the Guardsman's Pass and Big Cottonwood Canyon for the first time.
Park City will host the race's finale with a 125km stage, short but tough, featuring the 10km climb up Empire Grade which kicks up to 20% in places.
"It makes us proud to host the Tour of Utah - one of the world's premiere professional cycling races. Utah's spectacular and diverse scenery is on the world stage as we host the sport's elite riders right after the Tour de France. Television viewers will get a peek at The Mighty Five™ our five spectacular national parks and will experience our scenic byways that transport visitors through our red rock country. The world will see that some of nature's greatest accomplishments are right here in Utah," said Vicki Varela, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism.
2013 Tour of Utah stages:
Stage 1: August 6 - Brian Head to Cedar City, 180 km
Stage 2: August 7 - Panguitch to Torrey, 210 km
Stage 3: August 8 - Richfield to Payson, 191 km
Stage 4: August 9 - Salt Lake City (circuit race), 54.7 km
Stage 5: August 10 - Snowbasin Resort to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, 182 km
Stage 6: August 11 - Park City to Park City, 125 km
- Article published:
- June 6, 2013, 00:51
- Cycling News
McQuaid appears at French Senate anti-doping committee hearing
International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid said that the handover of information regarding Lance Armstrong to the United States Anti-Doping Agency, along with the World Anti-Doping Agency will begin this week.
Speaking at a French Senate inquiry into anti-doping, McQuaid also denied that Armstrong ever received special treatment.
"We weren't protecting Lance Armstrong, not at all, no," he insisted in an interview with AFP. "We didn't give him anything special, and I think we've said that many times before."
According to McQuaid, he will meet USADA boss Travis Tygart in coming weeks after laboratory findings are passed on, going back as far as 1999. During his time at the hearing McQuaid denied that the Armstrong's test samples from the 2002 Dauphiné Liberé had returned suspicious results.
Last year Swiss anti-doping laboratory director Martial Saugy told AFP that been aware of the suspect sample.
"The politics of the UCI at that time, if there was such a result involving an important competitor, was to meet them and ask for an explanation," Saugy said. "That was their approach to prevention."
During the hearing on Wednesday, McQuaid who took the presidency from Hein Verbruggen in 2005 explained that at the time, the procedure for suspicious samples was complicated.
"The problem is that at that time - I was not president of the UCI - EPO tests were not certified. A result would be positive or negative but the UCI could not act. You could not even says that there were suspicions because it paved the way for, perhaps, a lawsuit against us," he said. "You could just target the athlete during the next competition. This is what was done during the 2001 Tour de France on Armstrong."
McQuaid also argued that blame for what was labelled by USADA as "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen" should not only rest on the governing body's shoulders, but also that of WADA and their US counterparts.
He also championed the sport's introduction of the blood passport program in 2008.
"The UCI has a lot to do to regain the prestige and explain his performance in light of his doping activities, but to this day, the peloton is not the same as it was 10 or 15 years ago.
"We try harder and stronger than anybody else," McQuaid continued. "We are the most advanced federation against doping. We spend seven million Swiss francs each year in the fight against doping. If I had more money, I'd spend more on it. That's true. But it's all a question of economies."
A report will be handed down by the French Senate anti-doping committee next month.
- Article published:
- June 6, 2013, 01:49
- Pat Malach
American almost quit racing after 2012
By signing a one-year deal with Garmin-Sharp for the 2014 season, Phil Gaimon has come full circle with CEO Jonathan Vaughters and Slipstream Sports, the management company that owns the team.
After an introduction to cycling while studying at the University of Florida, Gaimon's first pro ride came in 2005 with the VMG UCI Continental squad that would eventually morph into Slipstream-owned Holowesko Partners and finally the now-defunct Chipotle Development Team. But when VMG joined up with USA Cycling in 2006 to be the de facto U23 national team, Gaimon was left out of the picture.
"My second year racing I got on VMG, and I guess during that year Vaughters was kind of courting Holowesko for sponsorship," Gaimon explained. "He sponsored the national team first and then he eventually went over to Holowesko-Garmin. So I did kind of go full circle. They did fire me in between there once; I wasn't asked to stay on VMG that second year. So I've been begging him for something for seven years."
After his season with VMG, Gaimon plied his trade with several amateur squads in the Northeast US before signing with Jelly Belly in 2009. He moved to the Kenda/5-hour Energy team for three seasons in 2010 and 2012, and he signed with Bissell this year.
Gaimon’s palmares include first overall at the 2012 Redlands Bicycle Classic; time trial wins in the San Dimas Stage Race in both 2012 and 2013; first overall and first on Stage 1 in the Merco Cycling Classic; and second overall at the 2013 Tour of the Gila. He also won the Mt. Washington Hillclimb in 2008 and 2009, and he recently took home the jersey for most courageous rider at the US professional road race championship.
But following an off-season of turmoil within the 5-hour Energy/Kenda team, the 27-year-old from Georgia said he almost threw in the towel before Bissell stepped up with an offer.
"If that hadn't worked out I wouldn't have stayed around in the sport this year," Gaimon said. "Some nasty things went down with my team last year, so it wouldn't have been worth it if I didn't have a great set up, and Bissell has been a huge asset. The support this season has been great."
Gaimon said he has been "in touch" with Vaughters and Garmin-Sharp since early last year, but when Gaimon's team ran out of money to send riders to races toward the end of the season, his contacts with Vaughters also faded. Early season success this year with Bissell re-opened the lines of communication.
"I continued where I should have been when the season started," Gaimon said. "Vaughters kind of noticed, and we got back in touch and have been chatting most of the year."
Those chats led to the deal for next season and a chance for Gaimon to test himself on the sport's biggest European stages. Despite lacking any previous European racing experience, Gaimon said he's anxious to tackle the division-one peloton and races.
"I feel like it should be suited better for me than the American stuff, actually," he said. "I think it's harder and there is less fighting with your arms and elbows and more fighting with your legs. The races that I've done well at in the US are always the ones that are kind of a notch harder."
Gaimon will be 28 next year and will have to learn the ropes at another level of racing, but his age and relative maturity could be a bonus compared to riders who head off for Europe in their early 20s.
"I'll probably pick it up faster than if I had come over there at 21," he said. "But the difference is I don't really have the time to screw that up. It took me a lot of years to figure out how to do things over here, and I cannot take that long again. But bike racing is bike racing, so how bad could it be?"
The rider who has proved himself to be a versatile talent in the US peloton is looking froward to finding out where he will fit in when he crosses the Atlantic Ocean.
"I don't really know what I'll be more suited to over there," he said. "I've done pretty well at stage races here. I've done pretty well in one-day stuff here. So I'm guessing I'll get a shot at both, and we'll kind of see where I sink and where I swim."
And Gaimon said that continuing support from Garmin-Sharp team management and riders should help him along the way.
"I have good support from the team, they're already helping out," he said. "[Tom] Danielson has been a huge help already with training this year and teaching me the ropes, and I think he'll continue that. I won't be left to my own devices."
But before Gaimon can get too worried about what will happen next year, he's got to finish off this season with the Bissell team he credits with reinvigorating his goals and motivation. He'll ride Tour de Beauce next before focusing on the Cascade Cycling Classic in July and then the big UCI races in Utah, Colorado and Alberta.
"I guess having a contract in hand takes some pressure off, but it's not about that," he said. "I still want to race my ass off every time I get on the bike. I want to prove that I deserve the opportunity that I have, and I want to help Bissell out as a team. I'm not going to mail in the rest of the season because I've got something signed."
Gaimon will also have an ulterior motive to perform well at the remaining North American UCI races against WorldTour competition.
"In the late season stuff I'll be racing against the guys who I'll be dealing with all next year," he said. "So I can get my feet wet there – let them know who I am."
So "Phil the Thrill," as he is called by some fans and fellow competitors, will have plenty of motivation for the rest of the season. Even so, Gaimon admitted that signing with a WorldTour team is a huge relief after years of hard work and after many bouts with disappointment.
"I never thought it would happen for a while there," he said. "So yes, it's unbelievable when things actually pay off and work. You stay in this sport too long and it's not surprising that you get a little jaded and you turn into a bit of a pessimist if you read too much of the news. I didn't get the short end of the stick this time."
- Article published:
- June 6, 2013, 04:34
- Cycling News
Euskaltel Euskadi chasing stage wins as Dauphiné heads into the mountains
Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel Euskadi), 2011 Tour de France mountains classification winner, will miss this year's 100th edition of the race.
The Spaniard failed to live up to expectations at the Giro d'Italia last month, eventually finishing 12th overall. With his form questionable, the team today announced that Sánchez will not be on the start line in Corsica for the next grand tour.
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, Euskaltel Euskadi general manager said that it would be "impossible to see the best" of Sánchez should he race the Tour de France and that the 35-year-old will be instead focused on the back end of the season. Sánchez has traditionally performed more consistently at the Vuelta a España and has five stage wins to his name, whereas he has only been riding the Tour since 2010.
"We've been talking and he confessed that it has finished the corsa rosa very tired, both due to the maximum stress of preparation and the race itself, which has been very hard," said Gonzalez de Galdeano in a statement on the team website.
Once Sánchez completes the Critérium du Dauphiné this Sunday, he will then rest before returning to racing at a date yet to be determined.
"Samuel is a great leader," said Gonzalez de Galdeano. "A man working on the edge and always looking for the best form to meet the objectives. He has my confidence and that of the team and it is up to him when he will return and we will remain committed to the success that has always given us."
Gonzalez de Galdeano has been with the squad at the Dauphiné, finalising the line-up for the Tour which begins on June 29. With the Dauphiné heading for the first big mountain stage on Thursday, the Basque team is hopeful of making an impact.
"This is a very prestigious race and a win would be very important for the team," Gonzalez de Galdeano admitted. "Moreover, it would give us greater morale heading into the Tour."